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A white sauce, nowadays made with thickened milk (often flavoured with onion, cloves and bay leaves).
It is used as the basis of many other sauces - such as cheese sauce. Originally béchamel was made by adding cream to a thick velouté sauce (made with chicken or veal stock), but this practice has long since disappeared.
The sauce was created by and named after the French financier Marquis Louis de Béchamel in the late 17th century. For a recipe see Gourmet Britain recipe section.